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Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Apr;11(4):335-8.

Jimson weed extract as a protective agent in severe organophosphate toxicity.

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  • 1Columbia University, Saint Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1000 10th Avenue, Room GE01, New York, NY 10019, USA.


Treatment of patients following an organophosphate (OP) exposure can deplete a hospital's entire supply of atropine. Given the possibility of multiple severe exposures after a terrorist attack using OP nerve agents, there exists a need for either greater atropine stores or the development of alternative antidotes. Jimson weed (Datura stramonium) contains atropine and other anticholinergic compounds and is common and readily available. It is used recreationally for its central anticholinergic effects and is made easily into an extract by boiling the crushed seeds. The extract has rapid onset of effects and may be useful for treatment of OP poisoning.


To determine whether pretreatment with an easily stored and prepared Datura seed extract (DSE) will increase survival following a severe OP poisoning.


Datura stramonium seeds were collected, crushed, and then heated in water to make a 2-mg/mL atropine solution (100 seeds contain approximately 6 mg of atropine or 0.007 mg/seed). Male rats were randomized to pretreatment with either saline (n = 10) or 7.5 mg/kg DSE (n = 10) given as a single intraperitoneal injection 5 minutes prior to a subcutaneous injection of 25 mg/kg of dichlorvos. The endpoint was time to death recorded by a blinded observer.


The Kaplan-Meier estimates of the 24-hour survival rate was 90% (95% CI = 56% to 100%) for the DSE-pretreated group and 10% (95% CI = 0% to 45%) for the control group. The log-rank test revealed a statistically significant longer survival for the Datura-treated animals (p = 0.0002). Median survival time was 22 minutes 30 seconds for the control group and greater than 24 hours for the DSE-pretreated group.


Pretreatment with DSE significantly increases survival following severe dichlorvos exposure.

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